Category: News

2023 Yellowstone Conference: Caring For The Caregiver

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch would like to invite you to attend our seventh annual Yellowstone Conference: Caring For The Caregiver being held on our main campus in Billings, MT on Thursday October 19th, 2023. This year’s conference is focused on the caregivers that provide care to Montana’s youth and families with professional panel discussions on:

  • Human Resources: Recruiting & Retention ~ Moderator: Lance Moyer, Human Resources Director for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch

This panel discussion will focus on the changing recruiting & retention landscape, and the challenges faced by behavioral healthcare organizations in attracting and retaining employees that support the organization’s culture.

  • Preventative Resiliency ~ Moderator: Taylor Clark, OTD R/L, Occupational Therapist for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch

This panel will focus resources in the community, as well as strategies caregivers can build into their own lives to support both themselves and, by extension, those they care for.

  • Applying Emotional First Aid to Caregivers ~ Moderator: John Dailey, Training Specialist for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch

This panel will focus on providing emotional first aid immediately after a traumatic event reduces the psychological stress while strengthening existing coping skills and building community supports which have a positive impact on the retention and resilience of caregivers.

  • Systemic Supports-Collaborating for Outcomes ~ Moderator: Mike Chavers, CEO of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch

The Systemic Supports-Collaborating for Outcomes panel will focus on how the systems and principles that can aid and impact caregivers for Montana youth and families.

5.75 CEUs and 6 OPI credits are available upon request. The conference will be offered both in-person and virtually again this year.

Conference Agenda:

Check-in starts 8:30am-9:00am

Welcome 9:00am-9:15am

Human Resources Recruitment Panel 9:15am-10:30am

Break 10:30am-10:45am

Preventative Resiliency Panel 10:45am-12:00pm

Lunch 12:00pm-1:00pm

Applying Emotional First Aid to Caregivers  1:00pm-2:15pm

Break 2:15pm-2:30pm

Collaborating for Outcomes panel 2:30pm-3:45pm

Keynote Speaker 3:45pm-4:30pm

 Click Here to purchase tickets!

Spring is A-Buzz with Activity at YBGR

Spring is almost over, and man has it been a busy one at YBGR.

The youth enjoyed the second annual Spring Social Supper on May 12th.  This year’s event featured a fantastic meal from Sodexo that the youth got to pre-ordered on RSVP cards; a candy bar full of treats thanks to a generous donor; and whimsical decorations in the dining hall thanks to some wonderful neighbors that wanted to help make the night a hit.

The youth went thrifting at Goodwill to find attire for the event and to take their turn at the photo booth.  They also got to practice their social and coping skills in a festive environment and enjoyed the night off from chores as staff and volunteers did all the serving and cleaned up.

On May 26th YA and YBGR celebrated six youths that have overcome a lot in their short lives and earned the honor of graduating high school. Youth were celebrated by their families, staff, and peers in the Chapel and enjoyed a cupcake reception after the ceremony.

The following week was a blur of activity as the kids were getting ready for school break and the annual Spring Fling Clean-up on June 1st. Youth and YA staff have been getting ready for the annual clean-up since late January when they headed into the greenhouse to plant seeds. They nurtured their seedlings to life and learned a lot along the way, from growing in a greenhouse, how to remediate less than ideal soil, not to over or underwater, and patience. Their efforts paid off and the campus is abuzz with happy bees from the seven hives YA has going this year flitting from flower to flower gathering their pollen to make some delicious honey!

YBGR Host First Annual Spring Social

Spring Social

YBGR’s first annual Spring Social was held Friday, May 13th, at the Nutter Dining Hall. Kids in the residential treatment program miss a number of milestones in their young lives while getting needed treatment. The Spring Social was an opportunity for them to get dressed up, have a nice meal, practice social graces, and enjoy a new experience.
Community volunteers and staff worked to decorate the dining hall. Donors from the community helped to provide attire for those youth that needed something nice to wear. Staff and Foundation members served as wait staff, delivering plated meals, refilling glasses, and bussing dishes. One of the Lodge Program Managers commented,
‘I have never seen so many smiling faces all at the same time and place since I have been here”
Thank you to our generous donors who ensured the kids could have a special meal and also had appropriate clothing to wear and to all the volunteers who helped put on the event.
It meant so much to the kids!

YBGR Host A VIP Train the Trainer Event

In early August, YBGR hosted over 30 teachers, school resources officers, and community program staffers for a Violence Intervention and Prevention Response (VIP Response) Training class. These attendees became certified trainers in VIP and will be able to train others within their organizations to utilize these de-escalation techniques should a member of the populations they serve become escalated.

“Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch has been equipping staff for working with challenging children and their families since 1957.  YBGR is now going to make some of this training available to the public through the Learning Cooperative in which YBGR seeks to equip other agencies and professionals with the tools needed to effectively navigate this ever-changing field,” says John Dailey, Trainer at YBGR. “YBGR adopted the VIP Response training model over 7 years ago and has seen great value in the model with a reduction of the need for aggression prevention maneuvers. The individuals in this training will not only be trained in these methodologies and tactics, but also be able to train others within their organizations.”

“One of the great things about the VIP Response program is that it is fully customizable for any organization to adopt the elements that they are needing, be it crisis negation, evasion methods to prevent assault humanely and safely, and, should the situation warrant, prevent someone from causing harm to themselves.” Daily went on to say.

VIP Response’s goal is to provide as much of a hands-off de-escalation approach as necessary by training individuals to identify signs of escalation and intervene before an individual becomes assaultive. Attendees gained a deeper understanding of how, psychologically, humans react the way that they do and how to avoid triggering and escalating the situation to a more violent level.

The training was made possible by a learning cooperative grant from PacificSource and the individuals in attendance are certified trainers for their organizations for the next three years.

Robbie Chapel 50th Celebration

In celebration of the Franklin and Merle Robbie Chapel’s 50th year, a commemorative service will be held in the Chapel on the YBGR campus Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:30 AM, followed by a rededication of the Stephen Paul Healing Plaza.

The Spiritual Life Program has been an integral part of the YBGR experience since the Ranch opened in 1957.  Christian based in focus, the Ranch SLP’s strives to provide support and guidance to youth of all religions or beliefs.

Who better to explain the importance of weaving Spiritual Life into the very fabric of the Ranch than the Founder, Franklin Robbie?  In the October 1962 issue of the Wrangler, Franklin wrote:

“In accepting a boy from a juvenile court, there is nothing in the court order outlining the necessity or importance of religious training, but it becomes part of our moral responsibility to strive to meet all the needs of each boy given into our care.  That includes more than providing food, clothing, shelter, education, and recreation.  It embraces trying hard to take the place of parents in defining and teaching moral and spiritual values as well.  We are keenly aware that ‘man doth not live by bread alone but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God,’ (Matthew 4:4) and we have many encouraging evidences of the value of the religious emphasis included in our daily program at Yellowstone Boys Ranch.”

Much has changed since 1962 (most notably girls being accepted at the Ranch starting in the early 1980’s), but the importance of spiritual wellbeing as an integral part of treatment is more relevant today than ever before.  For more information on the celebration, contact Kristi at 406.656.8772 or

2021 Yellowstone Conference

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch would like to invite you to attend our fifth annual Yellowstone Conference: Resilience In The Face Of Adversity being held on our main campus in Billings, MT on Thursday September 16th. This year’s conference is focused on is focused on adversity, resilience, and change Montana families, providers, and organizations are facing with professional panel discussions on:


  • Treatment & Technology
  • Family Voice: Engaging Families
  • Underserved Voices: Igniting Change
  • Collaborating for Outcomes


Registration is open now and the cost of the conference is $25.00 and includes lunch. CEUs and OPI credits are available upon request. Register Here

2020 Yellowstone Conference: New Dimensions of Care

Maintaining safety and health of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch youth, staff, and guests is our top priority. Due to the uncertain circumstances of these times, YBGR has decided to make the 2020 Yellowstone Conference: New Dimensions of Care, a FREE virtual conference experience.


The format of the conference will now be offered in free weekly one-hour Zoom panel discussions starting on September 17th from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST (see schedule below). Each panel will still consist of a moderator, professional panelists, and audience participation discussing the important youth and family issues.  CEUs and OPI credits will still be offered for each of the panel discussions (free of charge), 1 CEU or OPI credit per panel discussion.

  • Thursday September 17th from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST-Collaborating for Outcomes: Family 1st Act   
  • Thursday September 24th from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST- The Role of Adolescent Faith & Spirituality 
  • Thursday October 1st from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST- Looking Beyond Behavior 
  • Thursday October 8th from 12:00pm-1:00m MST-Youth Voice: Evolution of Care
Each panel discussion registration is setup as an individual Zoom session, so you will need to register for each of them separately. You can sign up for as many as you like and we encourage everyone to come to all four!


Collaborating for Outcomes: Family 1st Act

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 has been touted as an opportunity to “change foster care as we know it”. The Act has several provisions to enhance support services for families to help children remain at home, reduce the unnecessary use of congregate care, and build the capacity of communities to support children and families.

To achieve the promise of Family First, Montana will need to adapt. State agencies will need to adjust and change systems. Private providers, particularly group home providers, will need to alter services and business models to better meet the needs of children and caregivers. Judges, attorneys and other legal partners will be relied upon to make informed decisions about what children and youth need to succeed. Members of the community need to be informed of best practices and engaged in active solutions. In short, successful implementation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Moderated by Michael Chavers, YBGR CEO

Panelists: Jeff Folsom, Dennis Sulser, & Nikki Grossberg 

The Role of Adolescent Faith and Spirituality

Spirituality helps people cope with everyday stresses by giving them hope and meaning in life through the values they live out on a daily basis. Looking at the core issues of independence, intimacy and identity is critical in the role of healthy spiritual development. Through questioning what beliefs adolescents will personally own, will help us to understand what values emerge through the formation of healthy spirituality.

Moderated by John Dailey, YBGR Spiritual Director

Panelists to be announced

Looking Beyond Behavior

All behavior is a form of communication. Looking beyond behavior for meaning is an important tool not just for mental-health providers but for communities. Unmet needs continue to echo in problematic behaviors and once you can determine the meaning you can create positive change through support. These concepts are universal in relationships and can be deployed by anyone. In this panel, we will explore the importance of developing communities attuned to the meaning of behavior so that we can all be part of positive change.

Moderated by Tyson Schumacher, YBGR CIO

Panelists to be announced

Youth Voice: Evolution of Care

A panel of former youth who were recipients of mental health services in and out of the state of Montana. We will explore their firsthand experiences in mental health to gather valuable information on past and existing systems of care that affect the lives of children.

Moderated by Rishay Watson, YBGR Executive Director of Business Development and Marketing

Panelists to be announced

Empowered to Connect Free Online Conference





Montana’s Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch will be offering free access to Karyn Purvis’ world renowned, Empowered to Connect simulcast.

Empowered to Connect (ETC) is an attachment rich community focused program that exists to support, resource, and educate caregivers. ETC’s resources and trainings are especially helpful for caregivers of children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, and maltreatment. ETC relies heavily on the model of Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the TCU Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch staff will be on-hand to facilitate discussions throughout the presentations in order to dig deep into how these parenting techniques can be implemented in our daily lives.  


  Mondays Tuesdays  
Class 1 27-Apr-20 28-Apr-20  
Class 2 4-May-20 5-May-20  
Class 3 11-May-20 12-May-20  
Class 4 18-May-20 19-May-20  
*All viewings begin at 3pm and end by 7:30pm

Click HERE to register for this free event 

3-Day EMDR Intensive Training: Neuroscience, Diagnosis and State of the Art Practices to Treat Complex Trauma 1/8/2020-1/10/2020






Join trauma specialist, author and national trainer, Megan Howard, LCSW, CCTP, for this intensive 3-day EMDR training that will provide you the knowledge and skills needed to use EMDR safely and effectively. Through lecture, live and videotaped EMDR demonstrations, and supervised experiential exercises, this training will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of trauma theory, principles, diagnosis and EMDR treatment.

The stage model remains today’s state-of-the-art treatment approach for all but single-incident trauma. During this training, you will learn the goals of each stage, along with the therapeutic tools to reach those goals.

You must be present for all 3 days of EMDR training to receive the hours of training certificate. CEUs will be emailed by PESI after paperwork has been processed.

Cost is $700.00 per ticket 

Purchase Tickets


Wednesday January 8th, 2020

  • Registration 7:30am-8:00am
  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Thursday January 9th, 2020

  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Friday January 10th, 2020

  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Program Outline:

Neuroscience of Trauma, Effective Assessment and DSM-5® Diagnostic Criteria

Neuroscience’s Current Trauma Paradigm

Biological nature of trauma

  • Triune Brain, The Autonomic Nervous System and the Stress Response
  • The Polyvagal Theory
  • Traumatic Stress: normal, prolonged, complex and developmental

Specific trauma symptoms

Primary treatment issues in trauma therapy

Trauma’s Somatic and Sensorimotor Sequelae

  • Hyperarousal
  • Hypoarousal
  • Dissociation, body memories and “flashbacks” Affect dysregulation

Trauma and Attachment

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)

Attachment Essentials

  • Baby/momma trauma
  • Insecure Attachment Styles Assessment and Primary Treatment Issues of:
  • Avoidant
  • Preoccupied
  • Disorganized type

Assessment and Diagnosis of Trauma Disorders

Current Trauma Diagnoses:

  • Acute Trauma Disorder
  • PTSD and subtypes
  • Dissociative
  • Preschool
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Proposed Trauma Diagnoses

  • Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD)
  • Complex PTSD

Trauma Treatment: Effective Tools, Treatment Modalities, and an Introduction EMDR

The Stage Model of Treatment

  • Assessment, Rapport, Psychoeducation
  • Developing the “Skills to Stay Stable”
  • Trauma Tools for Affect Regulation
  • Recognizing and regulating affect
  • Dissociative episodes and “flashbacks”
  • Grounding clients in their bodies and back in the present in the here and now
  • Mindfulness/bodyfulness (including somatic exercises)
  • Multisensory Guided Imagery
  • EFT (meridian tapping)
  • Reduction of physiological arousal
  • Recognizing and up & down regulating arousal levels
  • Containment and self-soothing
  • Stage One: Stabilization and Safety

Stage Two: Working Through Traumatic Memories

  • Brief overview of the theory and applicability of three trauma processing modalities:
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP)
  • Somatic Experiencing (SE)
  • EMDR

Practice EMDR for both Resourcing and Trauma Processing

Live EMDR demonstration followed by experiential sessions

Under Supervision, Learn and Safely Practice the Skills of EMDR for Both Phase One and Two

Phase One Work: Imaginal Resourcing

  • Containment Imagery
  • Comfortable Place Imagery
  • Protection Imagery and/or Nurture Imagery

Phase Two Work: Reprocessing Traumatic Memories

Limitations of Research and Potential Risk

  • Contraindications and precautions for reprocessing trauma
  • Differences in theory and in the associated neurophysiological models are a matter of ongoing discussion


1. Evaluate the biological nature of trauma and how trauma is stored in the body and limbic system, creating physical and psychological symptoms to better understand your clients.

2. Differentiate between sympathetic (activated) freeze response and the parasympathetic (deactivated) dorsal vagal immobilization response your clients experience.

3. Distinguish between the following types of traumatic stress: normal, prolonged, complex and developmental and articulate treatment considerations for each.

4. Ascertain the clinical implications of traumatic stress symptomology, including hyperarousal, affect dysregulation, dissociation, body memories, and flashbacks.

5. Employ effective somatic techniques to reduce/eliminate client’s body memories, “flashbacks” and dissociation.

6. Summarize the landmark study: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and understand the ten adverse childhood experiences studied as they related to clinical diagnosis and assessment.

7. Evaluate the clinical presentation of the following attachment styles as it relates to your clinical assessment: secure vs insecure; insecure; organized vs insecure disorganized.

8. Designate two different treatment strategies, once attachment style has been ascertained, based on your clients’ attachment style.

9. Demonstrate strategies to help clients build skills to be prepared to process trauma via EMDR, including safety within the therapeutic alliance and skills for self-regulation.

10. Determine when/if your client is prepared to safely process trauma memories via EMDR.

11. Create and employ client-driven imagery for safety and containment during trauma processing.

12. Utilize clinical techniques to help with grounding and centering traumatized clients in-session.

13. Prepare clients with various trauma tools; mindfulness, guided imagery and meridian-based techniques to decrease client’s arousal levels and modulate affect.

14. Analyze and critique the original eight phases of EMDR’s standard protocol (Shapiro) as it relates to clinical treatment.

15. Determine Parnell’s four essential elements of each EMDR session and how it relates to client treatment.

16. Practice under supervision Parnell’s Modified EMDR protocol to prepare for work with your clients in-session.

17. Practice under supervision the skill for resourcing a client with imaginal resources prior to processing traumatic material.

18. Practice under supervision the trauma processing modality and EDMR tools for processing traumatic memories with your clients.

19. Utilize and practice two “cues for safety” with your clients based on Steve Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.

Continuing Education Credits – all 3 days

Addiction Counselors: This course has been approved by PESI, Inc., as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 19.0 CE in the Counseling Services skill group. NAADAC Provider #77553. PESI, Inc. is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

Counselors: This intermediate activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Montana Counselors: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute (MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

Marriage & Family Therapists: This activity consists of 1140 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Montana Marriage & Family Therapists: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute

(MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

EMDRIA: This training is not affiliated with EMDRIA and does not qualify towards EMDRIA credits or training.

Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Clinical Nurse Specialists: PESI, Inc. is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

  • Nurses in full attendance will earn 19.0 contact hours. Partial contact hours will be awarded for partial attendance.

Psychologists: This live activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline and the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity. Contact us for more information on your state board or organization specific filing requirements. American Psychological Association credits are not available.

Montana Psychologists: This live activity is designed to meet the criteria requirements of the Montana Board of Psychologists and is a PESI-approved continuing education and qualifies for 1140 instructional minutes. Please save the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity.

Social Workers: PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2017 – January 27, 2020. Social Workers completing this course receive 19.0 Clinical Practice continuing education credits. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Montana Social Workers: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute (MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

Other Professions: This activity qualifies for 1140 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

Speaker Megan Howard, LCSW, CCTP was trained on the use of EMDR as a treatment protocol through EMDRIA and uses EMDR in her practice to achieve improved outcomes with a broad spectrum of clients in the areas of trauma, abuse, and substance abuse.

She is certified as a Clinical Trauma Professional through the International Association of Trauma Professionals and currently owns and operates one of the largest treatment centers for substance abuse and trauma in the state of Idaho.

She has been invited to train internationally at the International Society of Addiction Medicine in India and at the International Conference on Addiction Research and Therapy in Amsterdam.

Ms. Howard earned her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University and is a member of EMDRIA and the International Society of Addiction Medicine..

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Megan Howard is the owner of Addiction and Trauma Recovery Services. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Megan Howard has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

YBGR Economic Impact Report

Recently, YBGR, through a generous grant from NorthWestern Energy, YBGR partnered with Circle Analytics to complete an Economic Impact Report. Through this partnership, we did a “deep-dive” into the benefits of YBGR: what we not only do for kids and families, but also how much of a difference we make economically to our stakeholders (you). 

Circle Analytics  prepared hundreds of these reports for state agencies, cities, counties, economic development districts, as well as private and nonprofit entities across the country.   Social impacts recognize the greater extended value of the program to society – dollars expended vs. dollars saved.

Circle Analytics found that for every dollar spent at YBGR, there is a return of $13.90 through long-term savings to society, jobs, capital investment and indirect business taxes.  

Full Report